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Author(s): the Book of Genesis:
Chapter 7 about Noah's Flood

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Continued from Chapter 5 & 6

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Background (Repeated):

According to Jewish and Christian tradition, the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) were written by Moses under the inspiration of God. God inspired Moses to write the truth and prevented him from making any errors.  Many conservative Christians and Jews continue with this belief.

However, mainline & liberal theologians and secularists generally accept the "Documentary Hypothesis" which asserts that the Pentateuch was written by five authors or groups of authors, from diverse locations, over a period of centuries. Each wrote with the goal of promoting his/her own religious views. In Genesis:

bullet J: a writer who used Yahweh/Jehovah as the divine name.
bullet P: a writer who added material of major interest to the priesthood.
bullet R: a redactor who welded the contributions of J and P together into the present Pentateuch.

Chapter 7 of the book of Genesis are reprinted below. 1 The original authors, according to the Documentary Hypothesis, are indicated in color: J, P, and R. We follow the identification by R.E. Friedman. 2,3

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GENESIS CHAPTER 7: The story of the great flood:

Chapter 7 and 8 are of particular interest, as the text switches frequently between the two main authors. The Redactor seems to have wanted to preserve both the J and P accounts more or less intact. As a result, the text is quite repetitious:

bullet In verses 7 and 13, J and P each describes Noah and family entering the ark.

bullet In verses 10 and 11, J and P both describe the start of the rains.

bullet In verses 17 and 18, J describes the increase of the waters and floating of the ark twice.

bullet In verses 21, 22 and 23, J and P describe the drowning of the people and animals.

There are some conflicts in the stories which the redactor apparently decided to let stand:

bullet In Genesis 7:19-20 and Genesis 7:15 "P" lists two of every species. But in Genesis 7:2-3 "J" specifies 7 pairs of clean animals and birds and 1 pair of unclean animals.

bullet In Genesis 7:4, "J" describes the flood as being created by rain. In Genesis 7:11. "P" describes how it is formed rather from two sources:

bullet "the fountains of the great deep" which was a great ocean that the ancient Israelites believed existed under the earth. and

bullet "the windows of the heavens" when they were opened.

One or more verses from J are followed by one or more verses from P. If you read only the J verses, then you will get a coherent story. If you read just the P verses, you will see a consistent but slightly different story.

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Verses by J Verses by P and by R
 1    And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.
2    Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female.
3    Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth.
4    For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.
5    And Noah did according unto all that the LORD commanded him.
6    (R) And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth.
 7    And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood.
8    (P) Of clean beasts, and of beasts that are not clean, and of fowls, and of every thing that creepeth upon the earth,
9    There went in two and two unto Noah into the ark, the male and the female, as God had commanded Noah.
10 And it came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth.
11   (P)  In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.
12   And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.
13   (P)  In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah's wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark;
14    They, and every beast after his kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind, and every fowl after his kind, every bird of every sort.
15    And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life.
16    And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him:
16 (Cont'd) and the LORD shut him in.
17    And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth.
18    And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters.
19    And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered.
20    Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.
21  (P)  And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man:
22    All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died.
23    And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.
24  (P)  And the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days.

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Continue with Chapter 8: the rain stops and the ark lands

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Related essays on this website:

bullet Comparison of the Babylonian and Hebrew flood stories 
bullet Who wrote the 5 books of Moses?
bullet A possible source for the flood stories

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References used:

  1. The book of Genesis from the King James Version of the Bible.
  2. R.E. Friedman, "Who Wrote the Bible?" HarperCollins, (1997), Pages 246-247. Read reviews or order this book safely from online book store
  3. R.E. Friedman, "The hidden book in the Bible: The discovery of the first prose masterpiece," Haper San Francisco. Review/order this book. The author traces the "J" component of the first four books of the Bible. He writes:  "Readers have an opportunity to see the first great prose writer's full achievement; an epic work of the struggle between God and humans. and between good and bad.

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Copyright 1998 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
Latest update: 2014-FEB-08
Author: B.A. Robinson, J, P, & R

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